June 3, 2012 in Sports

Chinese hurdler has big day at Prefontaine

Pat Graham Associated Press

EUGENE, Ore. – Liu Xiang was giddy over his win and even more gleeful after seeing his time.

The 110-meter hurdler from China bounded around the track with an unbridled exuberance after holding off a star-studded field at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday, finishing in a time of 12.87 seconds.

That time would’ve tied the world record, but it was wind-aided by a slight margin. So the world mark belonging to Cuba’s Dayron Robles remains safe – for now.

Robles was scheduled to be in the field, but had trouble securing his visa and pulled out of the competition at the last hour.

There were still plenty of other rivals to push Liu, who held off Aries Merritt and Jason Richardson in what was billed as one of the marquee events at Pre. This race certainly lived up to the billing, with Liu getting off to a good start in the impressive victory.

“I just treated it as a regular race,” Liu said through a translator.

His reaction to the win proved it was anything but just another race, especially this close to the London Olympics.

And had the wind not been gusting, this could’ve been a performance to remember.

These days, nothing Liu accomplishes on the track comes as a shock to Richardson.

“He’s just amazing,” Richardson said. “It almost goes without saying.”

Allyson Felix was hard to miss in her aerodynamic black bodysuit with neon yellow patches on each leg. She’s impossible to catch, too.

In a 200-meter race that was supposed to be tight, possibly even down to the wire, Felix breezed away from the field, easily beating training partner Jeneba Tarmoh and crushing her main rival Carmelita Jeter.

Sure, Felix’s time of 22.23 seconds was hardly spectacular, but her performance was, especially with the Summer Games right around the corner. She showed that she’s definitely rounding into form.

While Felix won with a big burst out of the starting blocks, the other big race of the day – the men’s 400 – ended with a bang.

As in, a second bang to stop the race for a false start.

Teenager Kirani James of Grenada left the blocks a split second too early and was disqualified. But he protested and was allowed to run while the matter was sorted out.

The 19-year-old James got off to a solid start and had a slight lead on the homestretch.

But reigning Olympic champion LaShawn Merritt used a strong kick to pass James with a few meters remaining.

In other notable races:

• Mo Farah of Britain beat a talented field in the 5,000, including training partner Galen Rupp, who wound up settling for third place.

• Sanya Richards-Ross edged world champion Amantle Montsho in the 400.

• Wallace Spearmon captured the 200 in convincing fashion.

• Justin Gatlin held off Jamaican Nickel Ashmeade in the 100.

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